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Photographer Impoverished by Copyright Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Monkeys

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 25, 2017

Wildlife Personalities book by David SlaterTwo years ago, we reported on the copyright issues raised by the monkey selfie. While visiting Indonesia, UK wildlife photographer David Slater spent several days accustoming a group of crested black macaques to his presence, encouraging them to approach a camera he had preset to snap an in-focus photo. The resulting monkey selfies were an Internet hit, and Slater licensed the images through his agent, Caters News Agency. Slater quickly discovered that the images had been published in Wikimedia’s “free media repository.” Attempts by Slater to have the images removed were dismissed by Wikimedia, who took the position that since the images were not physically taken by Slater, he could not claim copyright ownership.

If the story ended there, Slater would have only experienced a loss in potential licensing revenue – in August 2014, Slater estimated to BBC News that he lost up to 10,000 £ (about $16,800 at that time) in income once the photos appeared on Wikimedia. Some of that income he may have been able to recoup through Wildlife Personalities, a book he self-published through Blurb. However, in 2015 PETA sued Slater on behalf of one of the macaques. The lawsuit claims that Slater and Blurb violated the monkey’s copyright when the selfie was included in his book, and all proceeds from the selfies should benefit the monkeys. The Guardian reports that the mounting legal fees have bankrupted the photographer.

PETA’s lawsuit seems to be a stretch. In 2016, a court ruled against PETA on the grounds that an animal cannot be a copyright owner. (In the third edition of its Compendium, the Copyright Office flatly cites “a photograph taken by a monkey” as an example of a work the Office will not register.) PETA appealed that decision to the ninth circuit court, which is hearing the case this summer. As reported in the Guardian, the legal arguments heard in court approached the absurd; the judges questioned what financial benefits would apply to the monkeys, and how the copyright would be passed to their heirs.  

The lawsuit has also raised concerns among some animal rights advocates. In 2015 when PETA first brought the lawsuit, the Daily Mail quoted Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor and supporter of animal rights, as saying “it trivializes the terrible problems of needless animal slaughter and avoidable animal exploitation worldwide for lawyers to focus so much energy and ingenuity on whether monkeys own the copyright in selfies taken under these contrived circumstances.” As a self-avowed animal advocate, PETA’s lawsuit was particularly galling to Slater. However, he takes comfort in the fact that the attention to the lawsuit has generated greater awareness of the plight of the macaques and their island habitat.

RIght: David Slater’s book, Wildlife Personalities, features one of the monkey selfies prominently.

Guild Joins Coalition of Visual Artists for Congressional Visits

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on July 24, 2017

On July 20th, the Guild joined members of the Coalition of Visual Artists for productive meetings with Congressional staff on key copyright issues. The meeting is part of the Guild’s ongoing advocacy efforts on copyright reform on behalf of graphic artists. In December 2016, a years-long effort by the House Judiciary Committee on copyright reform culminated in a proposal by Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers. The Coalition issued a response in support of key features of the proposal, specifically greater autonomy for the Copyright Office, modernization of the Office’s IT infrastructure, and the creation of a copyright small claims tribunal. The recent visit sought to provide Congressional staff with a unified voice on behalf of visual artists on these issues.

Guild Advocacy Liaison Rebecca Blake joined staff and legal counsel from American Photographic Artists (APA), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), and Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA). The Coalition’s response to the policy proposal on copyright reform can be read here.

US Capitol

Illustrator and Member Cindy Salans Rosenheim Joins ADAA Judging Panel

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 14, 2017

Cindy Salans Rosenheim

Guild member Cindy Salans Rosenheim was asked to join the judging panel for the prestigious Adobe Design Achievements Awards, the international student awards co-produced with ico-D. As an illustrator working primarily in watercolor and pen-and-ink, Rosenheim brings unique traditional skills to the panel of judges. Her work encompasses illustration for fashion and food, loose journalistic on-site sketches, more tightly-rendered editorial and children’s book illustration, and even hand lettering, maps, and calligraphy. Rosenheim joined Guild member Theresa Whitehill of Colored Horse Studios, who is participating on the panel for a second year. (We covered Theresa’s experience on the panel last month.)

A native of San Francisco, Rosenheim has spent most of her career working and raising a family in the Bay Area. She attended college at Tufts University, earning a BA in Art History and French. Upon graduation, she moved to the Midwest, spending two years as a staff artist with Hallmark Cards before moving to Chicago to work in a number of illustration studios. Her side client list reflects her breadth of experience, and includes companies (McKesson, Bain & Co. Inc;), major brands (Charles Schwab, American Girls Brands, Hasbro, Warner Brothers), periodicals (New York Times, Wall Street JournalHarvard Magazine – Harvard University,  Natural Health Magazine), and publishing houses (Random House, Macmillan Publishing, Ten Speed Press), among others. You can view her work on her website.

Below: Viana’s Italian garden. © Cindy Salans Rosenheim. Used with permission.

Viana's Italian Garden by Cindy Salans Rosenheim  

ICON 10 Education Symposium Call for Abstracts on “Teaching in the Future”

Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 30, 2017

ICON 10 Call for PapersICON 10, The Illustration Conference, has put out a call for papers to be considered for their Education Symposium taking place next July in Detroit, MI. Conference organizers are interested in reviewing submissions from a broad range of sources: academics, educators, researchers, and professional practitioners such as illustrators, typographers, designers, and fine artists. Fitting with the theme “Paradigm Paradox: Teaching in the Future,” submissions should explore how illustration is taught and crafted in a rapidly evolving environment, precipitated by technological changes to both production and delivery methods.

Interested participants should submit abstracts of up to 300 words by July 15. Conference organizers have identified several broad topics that could be addressed. From their call for abstracts:

Hand Made: Embracing craftsmanship in a multitude of media; access to training, tools and media.
Space & Time:  The evolution of 3-D, Interactive and Motion-based Illustration (and how to teach it all)
Rethinking the Illustration Major: Where is the Illustration program placed within your institution? What other programs does it correlate with and what are the interdisciplinary dynamics?
The Invisible Classroom: How does digital technology affect traditional teaching? What are the flaws and assets of remote teaching?
Structure and Infrastructure: What spaces, tools and equipment are essential for effective teaching?
Being Present and Active Locally: How do students interweave their creativity with the local populations and neighborhoods where they are in school? In particular, how do they share creative thinking and processes with disadvantaged populations, especially children? Are there mentoring opportunities for the students to become teachers?
Collaboration: Projects that involve collective thinking and making; how are they managed?
Inspiration: Processes to jump-start creative brainstorming.
Narration and Writing: How do students integrate their own stories into projects?
Issues Awareness: How do students engage with topical, political and global issues?
The Art of Seeing: Teaching students to look closely, to develop a critical eye, to become articulate consumers of visual images.
Shifting Realities: Keeping up with the changing nature of illustration.
The Entrepreneurial Illustrator: Teaching students the art of business and the business of art.


For full guidelines and contact information, please visit the ICON 10 Education Symposium call for submissions.

Metro-NY Artists: Pro-Bono Legal Assistance for Copyright Disputes

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on June 27, 2017

Copyright Alliance logoThe Copyright Alliance has partnered with Cravath, Swain, and Moore LLP and  Columbia Law School to provide pro-bono trial services for individuals and small businesses involved in copyright disputes in New York City. Through the initiative, Columbia Law School students working under the supervision of lawyers from the firm provide legal counsel  and learn trial skills as related to copyright law.

Designers and illustrators operating in New York City with a copyright dispute are encouraged to apply for consideration in the program. Applicants will be considered based on criteria published on the Alliance’s website. If you’re interested in applying for the program, visit the website to download the forms. For more information, contact the Alliance”s Copyright Counsel, Terrica Carrington, at tcarrington@copyrightalliance.org. (Please note that applying for the program does not guarantee legal assistance.)

 

Copyright Alliance pro bono trial services

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